Mike Huckabee has demonstrated that the derangement of nuclear deal critics knows no bounds. This is what he said about it over the weekend:
It is so naive that [Barack Obama] would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.
Huckabee’s statement has rightly been condemned as disgusting and offensive, but a few more things should be said about it. Invoking the Holocaust in this cheap, point-scoring way in order to drum up political support is appalling in itself, but that is not all that Huckabee is doing here. Huckabee is accusing the administration and supporters of the nuclear deal of abetting a future genocide. That should have no place in this or any other policy debate, and Huckabee disgraces and discredits himself by making such an accusation.
Huckabee’s claim is ridiculous with respect to the substance of the deal, and it ought to be out of bounds in any sane policy debate. It is also the sort of shameless tactic that other hawks have used in previous foreign policy debates to defame their opponents. In the months before the Iraq war, it was commonplace for hawks to accuse opponents of the invasion of being “pro-dictator” or otherwise supportive of Hussein. Huckabee’s charge is serving much the same role in the Iran debate in that he wants to identify support for the deal as an endorsement of mass murder. It’s a crazy accusation, but it is one designed to stoke fear and confusion about the deal with Iran. Like those other attacks, Huckabee’s statement is dishonest and false, but he is trying to horrify people so that they have a distorted view of the entire debate.
Perhaps the most absurd thing about Huckabee’s argument is that it denies Israel’s very real military strength, ignores its reason for being, and pretends that the state is powerless when it is anything but that. This is supposedly a “pro-Israel” position that he is taking. Israel isn’t a party to the agreement, its citizens are in no way being put in danger because of the deal, and their government possesses conventional military superiority over its neighbors and has a substantial nuclear arsenal that makes a mockery of the fear-mongering scenario Huckabee is conjuring. The real trouble for nuclear deal critics is that Huckabee is simply making the explicit version of the deranged argument that many critics of the deal have been trying to imply about diplomacy with Iran all along.